Prologue

Padding through the hallway as quietly as she could, Chrysocolla scarcely dared to breathe for fear of alerting him to her presence. Her plain nightgown trailed along the floor as she rubbed her bleary eyes; she continued down the hall towards the kitchen and as her eyes adjusted to the darkness, she could make out a dim glow coming from the trapdoor leading to the cellar. Furrowing her brow, her lips mouthing his name as if it was a swear - Edmungus, though she'd never call him that to his face. She felt as though she had barely seen him in the last few weeks. As usual, he'd slunk off sometime in the afternoon and hadn't been seen since. She approached the kitchen and peeked around the door, a single weak ray of light signalled that the sun was just beginning to rise. Chrys convinced herself that there was no way that Niles had stayed awake all night and was most likely fast asleep.

She tiptoed over to the trapdoor and kneeled down. Carefully and quietly, she eased open the door a crack, and peered inside. Amongst piles of books and papers in the tiny dingy cellar was Edmungus Niles, and he was certainly not asleep. He sat hunched at a makeshift desk, his bony frame curled over the books like a nobleman might with his funds. His eyes, narrowed with concentration, darted back and forth incessantly. Every now and then, he'd stop and cock his head to the side, listening for a sign that the rest of the household had stirred, before engrossing himself in his study again.

Chrys watched him for a while, debating for a moment whether or not she should interrupt him and tell him off like their parents might've not too long ago. She considered how uncommon it was for him to listen to her and dismissed the idea. She frowned, as frustrated at his absence and lack of help with chores as she was curious about what it was he was researching so tirelessly and secretively. Suddenly, Niles sat bolt upright and began feverishly shuffling papers, he rummaged until he found an ornate looking leather bound book which he gripped tightly as he began to examine it. Chrys stayed frozen, gripping to the bare mud brick wall to steady herself while she she watched Niles slump back into his chair, pulling the book onto his lap and letting his floppy fringe fall into his eyes. Following the passages with his finger as he read, he began to mutter.

His concentration seemed to have reached a painful intensity, his mousey hair plastered to his head with sweat and his brow was furrowed in an almost grotesque manner. Then, something very strange began to happen, Chrys couldn't tell at first, but she watched carefully. His finger was still poised on the page as he gawked, utterly perplexed, at the book. The page was slowly curling up and turning black. They both stared in disbelief. As the light around Niles seemed to shimmer purple and pink for a second before the book burst into lilac flames. Niles yelped, flinging the book across the room in his panic and bolted for the door. Chrys clapped a hand over her mouth and flattened herself against the kitchen door as Niles fled past, completely oblivious to her presence. She waited until her muscles ached before creeping back to bed where she lay, eyes wide open and one thought running through her mind over and over until the roosters began to crow.

This is going to change everything.


Chrysocolla - (Chris-oh-collar)


AN: So you know that story you've been meaning to write forever, but every time you write it down, you're not quite happy with it? Well, this is mine. Please let me know what you think of it so far, are you curious about what's going on? Or is this less engaging than a Math class on a Friday afternoon? All advice appreciated!

This is a revised version of the prologue I initially uploaded, thanks to everyone who helped me improve it!

-Love, AA